Did you know that the traditional hard drive celebrates more than 62 years? Yes, 62 years of existence! And if the first hard drive launched by IBM in 1956 offered a capacity of 5 MB for a weight of more than a ton, the modern hard drive is, in most cases, as bulky as a chocolate bar (and smaller size, if it is laptops), and with a capacity well above 6 TB, while there is already talk of doubling this capacity at the same price and in the same size.
And although the hard disk continues to evolve thanks to various technological advances that face and improve the physical limitations imposed by the mechanical part of these devices (currently people think, especially, in a perpendicular recording or with laser technologies), there is another type of technology which is beginning to replace them and to reveal itself as safe and stable: SSDs.
Traditional hard drive or SSD drive? Advantages and disadvantages
Acronyms SSD correspond to “Solid State Drive” which in Spanish means “Solid State Drive” , comprising a unit exclusively for memory chips, is a storage unit that uses nonvolatile memory, just as the stick. So mechanical parts are eliminated, reliability issues are eliminated, and file read / write performance improvements are added, in theory at least.
The benefits reported by this type of SSD storage units are multiple, mainly due to the characteristic of not having mechanical parts, since this allows it to have the same capacity in less space, less current consumption and of course less wear and tear. They do not have motors or gears of any kind.
Especially in the case of laptops, the advantages of an SSD are many , as we will see later. That is why from this point on we will do an analysis and a balance of this technology to identify its strengths but also its potential weaknesses, which often tend to be forgotten by the user who enters new technologies.
For this, we are going to first compare SSD drives with traditional mechanical hard drives.
The weakness of hard drives
Largely mechanical, the traditional hard drive is a fragile object, the life of which is greatly reduced over time. Composed of several moving parts, the mechanics of a rigid disk can be assimilated, in its precision, to that of a watch. Composed of a motor, various trays and an arm that performs data reading / writing, the hard disk drive is sensitive not only to shocks, but also to many other factors in its external environment. As an example: if you place a powerful magnet on the hard disk drive, all the data it contains will be lost forever, since the trays of the hard disk will be demagnetized.
Another weakness of the hard drive is that it is slow for today’s data transfer needs. Of course, the progress that has been made in this area has contributed to modify this, but rotating several trays, at more than 7,200 revolutions per minute and guaranteeing read / write operations will always be more complicated than accessing and obtain data through a flash memory, with an almost instantaneous response time.
The obvious and unavoidable corollary of the systematic presence of a motor in traditional hard drives: they are generally noisy, get hotter, and consume more electrical power .
SSD technology: the solution to all ills?
Faced with all the problems listed above, SSD technology provides answers or at least a serious and reliable alternative . Technically, an SSD hard drive is composed exclusively of non-volatile memory chips, NAND-type chips . These have the particularity of being able to preserve data even when the computer’s power supply is off.
A first advantage: access to the information contained in these chips is practically instantaneous. Unlike a traditional hard disk, in effect, there is no need for the trays to rotate , nor do you have to wait for the various movements of the reading piece to find the desired information. Although this operation does not take more than a fraction of a second on a normal hard disk, it is its repetition, the fact of fragmentation, that causes delays in the time of access to the information.
Of course, fragmentation continues on SSDs and this is unavoidable as the file system itself segments or fragments the data into blocks or pools. However, the impact of fragmentation on the performance of an SSD is theoretically non-existent as access to multiple pieces of data spread across multiple chips is done instantly and simultaneously.
In terms of streams, SSD technology once again takes a considerable step forward over the hard drive as we know it . In tests, a 1.8-inch SSD records a read speed of 60MB / s. This speed will not worry the best of the hard drives that are part of the new desktop computers, we totally agree, but against a portable 1.8-inch hard drive, progress is evident.
Another advantage for the SSD: the read flow remains almost constant from the beginning to the end of the operation, regardless of the physical location of the data, whereas a conventional hard disk gradually reduces the flow when (especially during operations of sequential reading). But if in terms of reading the SSD disk is much better than the traditional hard disk, in terms of writing the same is not the case.
Let’s finish with the physical advantages of SSDs. Regarding the weight, a disc of these weighs, in general, less than one hundred grams, and they have a greater resistance than the traditional ones. SSD drives are actually stronger, and some brands like Samsung ensure their resistance to shocks. The electrical power consumption is, of course, another great advantage of SSDs: they consume much less electricity than their competitors, traditional hard drives. While these issues are not very important on a desktop PC, they are nevertheless crucial for a laptop, notebook or netbook.
SSD: Attention to the interface
Currently , SSD storage drives come equipped with a SATA-type interface, which allows the user to connect them to their computer easily, even without turning off the equipment.
Any other type of interface that an SSD unit has, such as ATA, indicates that it is an old SSD, which we will not even be able to physically connect to our computer, depending on its age.
Obviously, there are different connection variants on the market for all kinds of needs, but the common user should always opt for SATA, since it is the standard nowadays. Any other choice in this regard could make our investment of little use.
SSD: the problem of capacity
Although SSD drives have been expanding storage capacity over time, the truth is that they are still far from the capacity / price ratio of traditional hard drives. To check this point, all we have to do is compare the prices of SSD drives with traditional hard drives. We can quickly see that for a capacity of 1 TB, SSD drives are eight times higher in price than traditional mechanical drives.
Of course, there are SSD units with a very affordable price, with a capacity of around 120 or 240 GB, which can be used as a primary unit, that is, to install the operating system and applications , with a really impressive performance jump.
This allows us to have a hybrid system, that is, a primary SSD drive and a traditional hard drive as a storage unit for files such as documents, music, videos and others, with amazing performance, especially for older computers.
The advantages of SSD disks are real and verifiable, both in physical characteristics and in terms of performance, especially when it comes to portable devices and notebooks.
More compact, more resistant to shocks and the environment in general, SSDs also present outstanding qualities in terms of performance and operation. Access to information is instantaneous, the data reading flow is impressive. Far from being just theoretical, the advantages are seen in the Windows load times: the system runs much faster on an SSD disk than on a traditional one.
The main disadvantage of SSDs is clearly the price / capacity ratio. A 120 or 240 GB SSD, the only ones affordable by the common user, offers insufficient capacity for today’s storage needs , unless it is used in a hybrid configuration of SSD and traditional hard drive, as mentioned further. above.
However, if we put aside the price disadvantages with respect to capacity, the rest are all advantages: no moving parts, which reduces wear to zero, lower power consumption, lower caloric production and less space.
Also, by not having electromechanical components to read files, the SSDs are completely silent . The lack of mechanical parts also facilitates access to data, which is essential for those who need speed. Unlike hard drives, where the mechanical reading “arm” needs to go from one end to another to be able to read certain information, on the SSD that information is always at hand.
Differences between an HD hard drive and an SSD
Although between traditional mechanical hard drives and SSD storage units there are many technical differences that influence performance and stability, the truth is that for the user there is no better or worse storage mode for files, it all depends mainly of the needs of each one.
For example, if we work in the multimedia field and we need to store large videos, with high quality, SSD storage units are not the most recommended in these cases, since the size of the videos would be enormous and would occupy a very important space, Unless we have a hefty budget to purchase a solid state drive of at least 1 TB. capacity.
At this point, it will be best to trust a traditional mechanical hard drive, since with the same money of a 1 TB SSD, we could buy 6 Tb of mechanical storage, as long as our work base is a desktop computer.
On the other hand, if we do not generate such large files, the option of the SSD is not an alternative to be ruled out due to all the advantages of its use, especially on laptops. Precisely, below these lines we will find a complete guide with all the information necessary to buy an SSD disk.
Everything you need to know before buying an SSD drive
Those who have already replaced their traditional hard drive with one of the SSD type in their computers, will not hesitate to say that this step was one of the best ideas they could have had to increase the performance of their PC.
Once we make the change, we will notice that any task we perform on the computer will be much faster, and it will really surprise us how the simple replacement of a part of our computer has been able to offer us a large increase in performance.
However, for many, the purchase of an SSD disk is a mystery, since they are quite different from traditional traditional mechanical hard drives, this is mainly due to their size, but basically this is the only external difference that exists between an SSD and a traditional hard drive.
The real revolution is inside, since they do not incorporate mechanical parts. As we know, traditional hard drives use a system made up of plates and arms, in which the latter run through the magnetized surface of the plates to write and read data.
But the main secret to obtaining the impressive performance in writing and reading rates of SSD disks is that they are made up of flash memory cells, which allows the operating system to store or read data from the disk without having to go through any physical surface, nor are motors, arms or chainrings necessary.
This, in addition to performance, offers the advantage of making the SSD much smaller, with lower power consumption and lower temperature level, also, they are also much quieter.
If you are interested in taking the step to this technology, from this point on we will know the main aspects that we must take into account before purchasing an SSD disk, so that the purchase is as profitable as possible.
The main point: storage capacity
SSD technology is truly amazing, however it is still a bit expensive, especially for home and small office users. That is why all of us who dedicate ourselves to office tasks or other activities where we do not have to store and work with immense amounts of data, we must think about having an SSD disk for the operating system and applications, and if we do not extend ourselves in the amount of data we handle, also our files and documents. In this scenario like the one described, an SSD disk will provide us with an instantaneous impressive performance.
Now, in the event that our documents exceed the capacity of an SSD disk, which generally offer storage space from 120 Gb. To 240 Gb, we can always opt for a combination of both, that is, an SSD for OS, apps and so on, and a traditional hard drive for documents or data.
However, this does not mean that if we have the right budget, we cannot access higher capacity SSDs, since there are SSDs on the market that can reach up to 1 Tb. capacity, but at a fairly high price.
At this point, the choice of an SSD is based on two fundamental factors: budget and need. In the event that we have a large budget, we should not hesitate to buy the highest capacity SSD disk possible, since it offers us the possibility of expanding the catalog of programs or storing more data in a single unit, with the consequent benefits that this modality offers.
If our budget on the other hand is more limited, the first thing we should think about is the number of installed programs and the documents that we use regularly, or those that are necessary for our daily work.
From this point on, everything else can be stored on an external storage disk or even on a memory stick or card . Of course, there is also the possibility of adding, in addition to the SSD disk, a traditional disk, which will provide us with much more storage.
Side note: Hybrid SSDs
Most likely, at some point we have heard or read of the existence of the so-called “Hybrid Disks”, thinking that they would be a good option to solve our performance problems, however, they are not what they seem.
Most users think that these drives would be identified by the operating system as two different drives, one SSD and one traditional. However, this is not the case, since the principle of their operation is basically to store the most used files in the “SSD part”, while the rest is stored through the traditional system, that is, using magnetism, arms and plates. Also, many Windows 8 and Windows 10 users report problems with the quick start system.
Another point that we must take into account when buying an SSD disk is our hardware, since if it is very old or cannot respond to the performance of a storage unit of this type, we will hardly be able to notice an improvement in general performance
How long does an SSD storage drive last?
SSD disks have reached a level in their construction technology that are already capable of reaching the useful life cycle of any mechanical technology hard disk, however they still offer certain problems, especially related to current fluctuations.
This means that they are more prone to damage from power surges, or when electrical power is interrupted when the storage unit is in use. But on the other hand, the absence of mechanical moving parts makes SSD units much more durable and solid than traditional hard drives, that is, they are stronger and resistant to falls and vibrations.
It is also necessary to highlight that an SSD disk has a shorter useful life than a traditional hard disk, due to the read and write cycles that the memory chips of the unit can support, however, this useful life can reach reach 5 to 10 years of intensive use according to the manufacturer, much longer than this technology will be replaced by something surely more spectacular.
How much does an SSD improve the performance of my PC?
Much. There is no doubt that the performance of this type of storage unit is one of the best features it offers, far more than minimal power consumption, operating temperature, noise and other factors.
The performance of an SSD disk is much higher than a traditional mechanical disk, and it shows as soon as we turn on the computer, since it is capable of turning on in a fraction of the time that a traditional hard disk would use. Likewise, any task that we perform on a computer with an SSD installed we will perform it faster, and where it is most noticeable is when we use programs that are heavier than usual, such as Photoshop.
Of course, the performance will always vary according to the type of software we use and the type of hardware installed in the computer, but with an SSD disk we will always notice a substantial difference, except and as we mentioned, that we are using too old equipment.
Is my computer compatible with an SSD disk?
Basically, any modern desktop or notebook computer can use an SSD disk, since most of these types of storage drives use a SATA interface, a standard extended among all electronic device manufacturers.
In this sense, the only thing we have to do to know if our PC is compatible with an SSD disk is to consult the manual for the type of disk interface it offers.
Another point to take into account is the size of these units, which may vary according to the benefits it provides. For both points, it is best to consult the manual of the PC or notebook, visit the website of the manufacturer of the SSD disk and ask in forums and pages dedicated to technology.
SSD solid disk maintenance
SSD storage units are one of the best things that have happened to the computer user, since they allow them to have a performance in writing and reading data never seen before, which translates into greater speed and comfort at the time to work.
SSD storage units (they have not stopped evolving, both in access speed and capacity, and best of all, they are becoming more economical, so they are no longer restricted to high-performance computers.
However, certain precautions must still be taken when using them, so that they remain healthy and at the maximum of their storage capacity and performance.
Precisely from this point we will know the best tips so that our SSD drive lasts its entire life without problems.
As we can see, solid-state storage drives offer many advantages over traditional hard drives. Even considering that SSDs are considerably more expensive than traditional hard drives, the performance they offer makes it worth the investment to get one of these drives.
However, if we are smart, we can always buy a small SSD disk, around 128 or 256 Gb, which are relatively cheap, to use to install the operating system there and store the programs and some documents that we use more often, leaving the mechanical hard drive to store everything else, namely music, videos, documents that we don’t use often and so on.
With this, we can enjoy the advantages and benefits of having an SSD installed in our computer with a limited budget. Despite all these advantages, an SSD drive must be cared for in a special way, to guarantee that it will have a few years of good operation.
Maintenance of solid drives SSD
Although the greatest advantage of SSD drives is that they do not have mechanical moving parts inside, and therefore do not suffer from material fatigue, the truth is that every time we store files, that is, we write data to the drive, there is wear and tear. , which after a few years will make the unit decrease its performance.
If we do not want this to happen to us in a short time, it is important that we take into account the advice mentioned below these lines, with which we can have our SSD well cared for for as long as possible.
The TRIM command can be very useful to prevent the SSD drive from decreasing its performance. This command allows to improve the efficiency of the SSD unit, that is to say, it allows a much faster writing of the data.
Of the tools to optimize an SSD storage unit, TRIM is one of the best, since it offers the possibility of eliminating all the unwanted data stored on the unit, with which we will achieve a healthy system that will translate into greater performance.
Many manufacturers include their own management software with the SSD, which is developed to fully exploit its capacity. Some examples of this type of software are Samsung SSD Magician, Samsung Data Migration Tool, OCZ Toolbox, Transcend SSD Scope, Intel Solid-State Drive Toolbox, Plextool, and Corsair SSD Toolbox, among others.
The best we can do for our SSD is to make sure that the software is updated, that is, in its latest version, in order to get the best possible advantage of the unit.
Split data across two disks
Above we mentioned that a good alternative to enjoy the benefits of an SSD is to install one of these drives for the operating system and so on, and use a traditional mechanical disk for larger files. This is because files that are too large affect performance when data is read.
Don’t fill the SSD drive
One of the best tips for having a healthy SSD is not to fill it with data completely, as it will significantly affect the performance of the drive. That is why it is advisable to always leave enough empty space on the SSD.
We could consider that a percentage of 90% of capacity completed is an adequate measure, that is, it will not affect performance.
Do not defrag
Another very important point to keep in mind to keep an SSD in optimal condition is not to defragment. The worst thing we can do is defragment our SSD drive, since the only thing that we will achieve is to reduce its useful life, because this type of drives have a specific reading and writing cycle.
Over time, traditional hard drives will most likely be completely replaced by solid-state storage drives, as long as the ratio of higher capacity and decreasing prices continues to be maintained.
Perhaps also with time we should not do anything special so that they last us many years of operation, but one thing is for sure, the SSD is here to stay and it will not go away.
Is it dangerous to defrag an SSD disk in Windows?
Solid state drives, better known by its acronym SSD, are one of the modern technologies that generates more confusion and questions among its users, more specifically regarding their defragmentation in Windows.
In this sense, most of us have ever heard that SSDs have a much more limited read and write cycle than the technology they replace, mechanical hard drives, and that if we defragment an SSD we shorten its useful life.
In this article we will know what the scope of defragmentation of an SSD disk is and if it is a procedure that can harm the useful life of the unit.
As we know, the SSD uses non-volatile flash memory, which marks an impressive advantage in terms of reading and writing speed over mechanical disks, but also offers other important qualities such as a much higher tolerance to shocks and vibrations, lower size and power consumption, among others.
It is a fact that users of these types of storage drives, and technology enthusiasts in general, believe that SSDs have a limited number of writes, which translates into a shorter lifespan than traditional hard drives, and therefore defragmenting such a drive only contributes to its shorter life.
Windows and SSD defragmentation
Based on this reasoning, then defragmentation would not be a good idea, so why does Windows automatically and periodically defrag these types of drives?
That the defragmentation of an SSD drive, today called “Optimization”, could shorten its useful life could be a reality many years ago, when SSD drives were just hitting the market, and their technology was not fully developed. Today, any mid-range SSD drive far exceeds 10 years of life expectancy, working to its full potential.
Currently, the defragmentation of an SSD drive is not a problem, it is more, it is an option that we have so that it does not lose its performance. In this sense, Windows performs a defragmentation operation every 28 days, as long as the “Restore” function is activated, which helps us to ensure that the unit never loses its performance.
To clear up any doubts, even from Microsoft they assure that defragmentation / optimization is not only dangerous or incapable of shortening the useful life of an SSD , but is even recommended for the good health of the unit.
As we could see in this article, the defragmentation of an SSD drive is not dangerous, and under no point of view will it shorten the useful life, that is, the read and write cycles, of it.
Furthermore, optimization / defragmentation of an SSD storage unit is so important to keep the SSD in good working order and performance that Windows developers have included it as a scheduled activity.
Of course, if we still have some kind of fear, we can always disable scheduled optimization, however, it is not recommended under any point of view, since disabling defragmentation could lead us to have problems and errors in writing and reading in the long term. .
How to Extend the Life of an SSD Drive
Despite all its advantages, SSD drives can also present problems, although to a much lesser extent than a traditional hard drive, despite everything that we can read in specialized media. But since we know that it never hurts to take some precautions, in this article we present some tips to extend the life of an SSD disk.
Avoid extreme temperatures
It is more than known that an SSD is much more resistant than a mechanical hard disk, in practically all areas, including the temperature that they can withstand. However, like any other electronic device, they are prone to failure when subjected to extreme or fluctuating temperatures, both low and high.
Despite this data, the only ones who may worry about this are those users who store a large amount of data for a long time, which should protect their SSDs at a constant temperature and preferably in a dark place.
The electric enemy
A blackout can be the worst nightmare for any computer user, since the sudden lack of electricity can cause the total loss of what we were doing, in the best of scenarios. At worst, the destruction of the SSD.
This could basically be solved by purchasing an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), of which there are models for all tastes and budgets. In addition, the UPS will help us protect the rest of our devices.
Keep the SSD free of useless files
Although it seems like a contradiction, the best we can do to preserve the useful life of an SSD is to keep it as clean of files as possible. Of course we are talking about files that do not serve us, or that we can move to another disk without problems.
Contrary to what most think, the length of the read and write cycles of an SSD drive does not play an important role in its wear, since for this a technology called “wear leveling” has been created , which allows that the system writes to the disk in a uniform way avoiding storing data always in the same cells.
However, there is a problem, wear leveling requires that the cells must be open. In the event that a cell is used to store long-term data, the system is forced to use other cells when more space is needed, which increases the rate of read / write cycles.
If we keep our SSD well cared for, and use the right tools to keep it in order, we can get a really long useful life, much longer than what a mechanical hard drive can provide.